Disciplinary procedures pertain to all students with disabilities in any category of eligibility who violate the code of student conduct; however, there are specific procedures that school personnel must follow when disciplining students with disabilities. In most cases, disciplining students who have IEPs is no different than disciplining other students. However, IEPs afford these students some protections.
1) One protection includes the right to continuation of services indicated by the IEP if the student is removed (i.e. out of school suspended or being expelled) from school for more than 10 consecutive or cumulative days within a school year.
2) In addition to the right to continue special education services, students with an IEP may receive a consequence different from that of other students if through a manifestation determination meeting the IEP team decides that student’s misbehavior was related to or caused by the student’s disability. This team also examines the student’s IEP and BIP, and it reviews details of the misconduct. In this same meeting, the IEP team decides if the school implemented the student’s IEP/BIP correctly. This type of meeting must be held anytime a student with an IEP is under consideration for a “change in placement” due to his/her misconduct.
Disciplinary Actions of 10 School Days or Less
Students with disabilities should be expected to follow the code of conduct. A student with a disability, who has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) in effect, can be removed to Out of School Suspension (OSS), another setting, or an appropriate interim alternative educational setting (IAES), just as any other student without a disability can, for up to a total 10 school days, for violations of the code of conduct or school rules. The 10 days can be consecutive or cumulative and can occur during one school year. It is not necessary for the IEP team to meet when this occurs. Likewise, it is not necessary for a manifestation determination to be completed, a functional behavior assessment to be conducted, a behavior intervention plan to be developed, or for any special education services to be provided if the removal is for 10 or fewer school days in the school year.
Disciplinary Actions beyond 10 Days
When frequent disciplinary actions add up to more than 10 school days in a school year, or when frequent disciplinary actions clearly indicate a pattern that is a change in placement, the IEP team must determine appropriate services that allow the student to continue to participate in the general education curriculum and progress toward meeting the goals outlined in the student’s IEP, although in another setting.
After a student has been removed for 10 school days in the same school year, and a subsequent removal is not for more than 10 consecutive days and is not a change in placement, then the district personnel and at least one of the student’s teachers must determine the extent of services needed so the student can continue to participate in the general education curriculum and progress toward meeting the goals outlined in the student’s IEP, although in another setting.
Within 10 school days of any decision to change the placement of a student with a disability because of a violation of a code of student conduct, the student’s IEP team must meet to determine whether the conduct in question was caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to, the student’s disability or whether the conduct was a result of the district’s failure to implement the student’s IEP. These steps are referred to as a “manifestation determination.”
In making this determination, the district, the parent, and relevant members of the IEP team (as determined by the parent and the district), will review the student's IEP, the student's behavior intervention plan (BIP), any relevant teacher observations, and any other information provided by the parents.
Conduct IS a Manifestation of Student's Disability:
If the IEP team finds that the student’s behavior was caused by or had a direct and substantial relationship to the student’s disability, or that the behavior was a direct result of the district’s failure to implement the IEP, then the behavior is a manifestation of the student’s disability. In this case, if the student does not have a behavior intervention plan, the IEP team must conduct a functional behavioral assessment and implement a behavior intervention plan to address the behavioral violation. If the student already has a behavior intervention plan that addresses the conduct in question, the IEP team must review and modify it as necessary to address the behavior. The student must return to the placement from which the student was removed, unless the parent and the school district agree to a change of placement as part of the modification of the behavioral intervention plan. The school system does not have to return the student to the original placement if the student's behavior is related to weapons, drugs, or serious bodily injury as explained below in special circumstances.
Conduct IS NOT a Manifestation of Student's Disability:
If the IEP team finds that the student’s behavior was not a manifestation of the student’s disability, the same disciplinary actions can be imposed on the student with a disability as those imposed on any student. If these actions include expulsion, the IEP team must determine how the student will continue to receive educational services that allow him or her to continue to participate in the general education curriculum and progress toward meeting the goals in the IEP. In addition, the IEP team, if appropriate, will conduct a functional behavior assessment and develop a behavior intervention plan.
School personnel may remove a student to an interim alternative educational setting for not more than 45 school days without regard to whether the behavior is determined to be a manifestation of the student's disability, if the student:
Carries a weapon to or possesses a weapon at school, on school premises, or at a school function under the jurisdiction of the State or the Local Education Authority (LEA);
Knowingly possesses or uses illegal drugs, or sells or solicits the sale of a controlled substance, while at school, on school premises, or to a school function under the jurisdiction of the State or the LEA; or
Has inflicted serious bodily injury upon another person while at school, on school premises, or at a school function under the jurisdiction of the State or the LEA.
The interim alternative educational setting is determined by the IEP Team.